Andy's Story (part 1)
Over the years, I have had friends have come and go. Technically,
they don't 'go' anywhere, they are always there. They just are in
the back of your mind, or on the tip of your tongue or a phone call
away, especially when you remember that it was one of them that
borrowed your lawnmower about 6 years ago and now you REALLY need
But as friends go, we can never have enough. Whether it's the one
friend you call when you have locked yourself out of the house in
while in your underwear getting the newspaper that was 'just out
of reach' or it's the person you call just when you are feeling
low, having locked yourself out of the house while in your underwear
just as the Fourth of July parade comes down your block.
In my mind, one particular person stands out.
During my formative years of 14 to around 16, I didn't get along
with my family too well. I was going through that adolescent phase
that psychologists call 'being a total prick to everyone'.
In that time, my parents and I were at odds many many times. I
couldn't talk to them and they didn't understand me. My brothers
and I fought all the time. I was probably not a decent person. When
I look back now, I didn't understand myself even. With the onset
of puberty, hormones, high school, girl trouble and adulthood all
rolled into one, I was a mess. There were a lot of arguments at
home. A lot of confrontation. It just wasn't pleasant.
My parents had pinned their hopes on sending me to a Baptist Boys
camp, with the desire that I would stay out of trouble. At least
for a summer. For awhile I did, but there is only so much that even
the Baptists can do when you believe your world is on fire and you
can't put it out.
On one of the many trips that the Baptists sent me and 5 other
miscreants on, we were introduced to a counselor named Richard Lannen.
He seemed to be generally interested in our problems and he had
some problems himself with his own son (actually his 'son' was a
kid that was a few years older than any of us, but Rich had raised
him almost by himself). Together we talked and worked out a lot
of the problems that all of us had.
We all grew to trust him and we found that we were able to talk
to him and he would listen, unlike how our parents weren't able
to. Over that summer, the 5 of us all became close friends. We shared
a lot of laughs and a lot of problems.
Rich's life was not without adversity. He had recovered from a
number of heart attacks. He was a Vice President at a very large
corporation and many times seemed to be under a lot of stress. But
he always took the time to listen to what we said. If we had a hot
date, he would loan us his car (even though we didn't even have
a drivers license between us). If we had problems with a girl, he
gave us advice. If we needed to borrow a couple of dollars, Rich
was always there. As long as we were honest with him, he trusted
us more than many of us had seen even in our own homes.